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Ghulam Rasul: Master of the Modern Landscape genre

December 05, 2009

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Image of a painting by Ghulam Rasul. — White Star

Remembering Ghulam Rasul one will invariably conjure up images of his glorious work; countryside with fields of mustard growing brilliant against the blue sky; the majesty of the Rakaposhi Mountain, or golden leaves sent tumbling by autumn winds.

In these paintings the artist revealed his love of nature and his appreciation of the God-gifted beauties of his country. Ghulam Rasul captured these visual pleasures in paintings and skilfully interpreted them on canvas surfaces with the rich components of oil paints.

Just a few days ago GR (as Ghulam Rasul was known to his friends), sent Eid greetings with news of his upcoming exhibition in Karachi, and of his involvement with various art activities and of his family. He sounded as dynamic and interested in life as ever and one looked forward to meeting him in the near future and viewing his latest paintings. He was an artist whose work in the genre of landscape seemed to become more enchanting as time passed.

Ghulam Rasul began his art studies as a student of Khalid Iqbal at the Punjab University, obtaining a Masters Degree in Fine Art in 1964 and joined the faculty as a lecturer in 1965.   

We first met at a printmaking workshop set up in Karachi by Michael Ponce de Leon in 1967 where Ghulam Rasul was extremely focused and serious about his work. The experience made a tremendous impact on him and he was inspired to explore the discipline further.  In 1969, he took admission at the Northern Illinois University, USA, where he obtained an MFA in Printmaking in 1971 and an MFA in Painting in '72. Later he was to fulfil a heartfelt ambition when a French Scholarship enabled him to spend a year working with Professor Stanley William Hayter, at the renowned Atelier 17, Paris. Throughout his career it was that involvement with printmaking that added a very unique, signature element to Ghulam Rasul's work. 
   
On his return from America, Ghulam Rasul spent his working years with the Pakistan National Council of the Arts, Islamabad, beginning as Director Visual Arts and retiring as Director General in 2002. During his tenure the Seventh National Art Exhibition was mounted in Islamabad. Throughout his career, Ghulam Rasul continued to paint outdoors and to create prints in his studio. He travelled widely and his work was exhibited in many foreign countries as well as in his homeland. Appreciation of his work resulted in the President's Pride of Performance Award in 1986.

Eager to share his knowledge with the younger generation, Ghulam Rasul opened Studio 542 in Islamabad in 1998, and made sure it was fully equipped for printmaking. He encouraged youngsters from rural areas to attend his studio and exhibited their work on a regular basis. On his retirement he built a studio outside the town and was delighted to spend his time in the northern areas accompanied by his family, capturing the moods of nature in paintings with an optimistic range of colours.

Ghulam Rasul remained much in demand, lecturing at various Indian Academies and acting as advisor to newly opened departments in Pakistan. He was a man who lived every day of his life with renewed vigour and leaves behind a widow, four daughters and his lovely grand-children. His legacy to the nation and to future generations is an invaluable treasure of art.